2016 has been a year of ups and down for Disneyland Paris. We have seen exciting and new additions come into the resort with Mickey and the Magician and the Forest of Enchantment, as well as an inaugural runDisney which has helped generate a lot of excitement within the community and rapidly growing interest for next year’s event. On the other hand, it has also been a difficult year for the Mouse’s European kingdom. Attendance has been falling not only on a statistical state but also noticeably as people-eating attractions struggle to fill up their queues. While there’s no denying current affairs from the past 12 months in France have played a major role in keeping guests away, so too has the great number of attractions up for refurbishments. As hype slowly begins to warm up for the 25th anniversary in 2017, DLP has taken this year to do some much needed spring cleaning in the hopes of restoring some much loved attractions to their ’92 glory. Dubbed the ‘Experince Enhancement Programme’, fans have kept a very eagle eye’d on the goings-on from beyond the green fences, hoping to find out what exactly the folk in the high-vis jackets are up to?
Last week, some were able to find out exactly that as shareholders were invited to Disneyland Paris for a progress update on the EEP. In addition to a number of reports on current refurbishments and the announcement of upcoming ones (which you can read all about here), we also got confirmation of an enviability.
As reported by Salon Mickey Blog, “Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet restaurant in Discoveryland will remain closed and will not open again in it’s present format and theme.”
This was an announcement that would have came as a surprise to very few. Much renowned as the runt of the DLP restaurant family, Pizza Planet has always struggled to remain current or favourable with guests once Toy Story began to appear elsewhere in the park. It’s far out and hard to find location made it difficult for those to find the eatery to begin with, it would be forgiven to believe you had in fact wandered backstage as you make your away through the unthemed pathway before embarking on the oversized rocket and entrance. This, added to the very bargain bin, last minute theming inside the restaurant made it very apparent that Pizza Planet had always intended to be a temporary addition to Discoveryland; to close a couple years after opening once a better solution to the lack of the Pixar mega-blockbuster was found.
Much like a certain looping rollercoaster on the opposite of the park however, “temporary” is a word DLP management just couldn’t get the hang of as Buzz and his grub stayed on for nearly 2 decades. Unlike Indy however, the decision has not been made to ‘permanentise’ the attraction which has been closed ever since Star Tours went down for refurbishment in March of this year.
It’s a sad and unfortunate fall from grace for what was initial the knight in shining armour of brand integration into DLP. While theming may not have been near the Disney standard we have come to love and expect, and the location felt like an extraterrestrial excursion away from the rest of Disneyland Paris, Pizza Planet will forever have a very special place in my heart and I for one am sad to hear of its permanent demise.
As a 3 year old visiting DLP for the first time, Toy Story was my entire life. Every kid at a small age has that movie or collection of movies they watch repeatedly all day, every day. Toy Story (along with my beloved Jungle Book) was that movie for me. My bedroom was a wash with Toy Story merchandise from toys to clothing to bed sheets with Woody and the gang on them. So, when that 1997 visit happened and I was brought to Pizza Planet, there was no prizes for guessing where my favourite place in the park was.
Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet will forever be a place of nostalgia for me. Many may recollect their time in the restaurant trying out the famous pizza burger, or covering their ears over the sound of screaming children, but it will always for me be a place where I was first brought into the world of Toy Story. I still fondly remember how giant the robotic guard at the entrance appeared to me as a young’un, or getting my photo next to RC; one of my all time favourite characters from the trilogy.
As time passed and Disneyland Paris – as well as myself – grew up, so too did my source for Toy Story experiences. With Laser Blast and eventually Toy Story Playland, I now had newer, better and much more interactive ways to celebrate my love for my favourite Pixar film. As Pizza Planet jumped between a state of open and closed, as well as the availability of convenient and good food in the resort increased, the appeal of visiting the restaurant diminished.
After over a decade of absence, and constant promises of “next year”, I returned the fast food paradise of my childhood in 2013. While looking at it with fresher, older eyes it was clear as to why the place is held with such negativity within the fanbase, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying my experience there. That lunchtime was a indulging trip down memory lane as constant reminders from a simpler time were right before my eyes. There’s something very heartwarming about seeing an old prop you long forgot about, before exclaiming “Oh yeah!” as the memory of seeing it before comes flooding back. I had reunited with an old friend that day.
This was the closure I needed on my time with Pizza Planet. I had returned to the place of my childhood and was satisfied knowing I had gazed eyes on it one last time before management would enevitably hear the fans’ cry for it to go. Now however, knowing that the restaurant truly is gone forever, I cannot help but be a little saddened.
There’s no denying this is the right decision, the restaurant simply wasn’t up to standards and better alternatives are available. I dream that someday the name Pizza Planet will be sung around Disneyland Paris with appraisal, there’s a beautiful little spot in TSPL just screaming for a 100% movie accurate restaurant, but the original will always stay with me. The cheap, tacky theming, the metal squeaky chairs, the endless loop of the Toy Story clips on relic televisions, the oversized characters and reused parade floats, they will forever have a place in my heart.
Thank you for the memories Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet. So long, partner.